6) Face-to-Face

Face-to-face interaction was examined by a team from Beijing Normal University using Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), which looked at a region in the frontal cortex to compare synchronization under different settings.  Four male–male pairs and six female–female pairs were scanned during four task sessions sitting: (1) face-to-face with dialog, (2) face-to-face with only one speaker, (3) back-to-back with dialog, and (4) back-to-back with only one speaker. They were videotaped as well and the researchers examined interactions for turn-taking behavior including body language: orofacial movements, facial expressions, and gestures.

They found neural synchronization at a maximum in the left inferior frontal cortex only in the face-to-face dialog scenarios. They concluded that: multimodal sensory information integration and turn-taking behavior between partners may underlie successful face-to-face communication. They add that the human brain is designed for face-to-face communication and has important neural features that other types of communication lack (email and text messaging), and recommend that people take more time to communicate face-to-face.

Jiang, J., Dai, B., Peng, D., Zhu, C., Liu, L, Lu, C., (November 2012). Neural Synchronization during Face-to-Face Communication, The Journal of Neuroscience, 7, 32(45): 16064-16069.

photo: Business Discussion  flickr